Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Today’s tale was sent in by an anonymous American migrant – a highly skilled and sought after professional, the very sort of migrant that New Zealand is eager to attract and retain.
This migrant is eager too – eager to have his say about life in New Zealand; and hoping that others may take something useful from the messages it contains.
We’re publishing it to demonstrate the reasons why migrant turnover is so high in New Zealand, and as a guide for prospective migrants who may be moving to New Zealand to ‘make a difference’ and wondering why the country gets such negative reviews.
Goodbye New Zealand
“I must begin by thanking you for the magnificent blog that you have created and the enormous time, energy, and dedication that you devote to it. You will undoubtedly deter many well meaning but credulous migrants from coming to New Zealand. In addition, your blog has provided me with solace knowing that my experiences here are not unique.
Admittedly, it is disheartening to read that others have encountered similar travails because I do not delight in the suffering of others. However, I confess that I enjoyed reading your blog’s tales for they confirm much of what I had observed and experienced in my nearly three years here. When reading your blog, I felt like Winston Smith in 1984 finding out that Julia was also a fellow thought criminal who thought exactly as he did about the insanitary world in which they both dwelt.
At any rate, I sold a relatively profitable small business in the United States and migrated to New Zealand in 2010 at age 27. The main reason I left was that I felt that the United States faced an irreversible economic and social decline. America was no longer a free country and the government was tyrannical in many ways, as evidenced by Edward Snowden’s recent revelations. I had also grown tired of the appalling stupidity and ignorance of large swathes of the population and I saw that the United States was becoming an increasingly dysfunctional society. The government in the US is bankrupt and living on borrowed time.
By comparison, New Zealand and Australia had comparatively low levels of debt and the economies weathered the Global Financial Crisis relatively well thanks to their export linkages to Asia. Although I obtained working holiday visas for both countries, I opted to stay in New Zealand because of its natural beauty and my hatred of hot weather.
I came here and I easily obtained a job, although it was a couple steps back from where I was professionally in my former business. Initially, I figured that as a migrant I would have to suck it up and take a step back to move forward, so I did not mind. Furthermore, I did not want to deplete my savings and investments waiting for the “perfect job” or business opportunity. My goal at this stage was to find a job that I could leverage into permanent residency and would provide me with an income whilst I decided on what sort of business I would like to buy or start. I thought it prudent to wait for six months and familiarise myself with the situation on the ground before embarking on a business venture.
My first job in New Zealand was ok, although I found the work culture strange. The people in management viewed me suspiciously because I knew a great deal more than they did. I understood that a certain subset of Kiwis has a visceral and irrational hatred towards Americans, so I tended to be discrete and quiet to avoid eliciting antipathy.
I found it odd that so many called in sick on a Friday or before a long weekend. Kiwis also tended to be very slack and sloppy workers. The managers at the company tended to be idiots whose sole virtue was that they had managed to outlast their peers in an excruciatingly stifling environment or were mates of other managers. It did not concern me too much because I simply needed an income whilst I found a business. However, I did focus on doing a good job because I knew the importance of creating and safeguarding a reputation for excellence.
Eventually, the company had an “Investments Challenge”. I worked in the investments field in the US before I bought my own company, so I thought it presented an opportunity to prove my talents and I thought that it could translate into moving to their investments team. Ultimately, I won and trounced the local “financial advisers”. In fact, they changed the competition’s rules half way through because I made their highly remunerated “financial advisers” look bad. I won the competition along with $100 gift card. Subsequently, I applied for a position as an “adviser” with that company, but I did not have the “right experience”. I also asked my team leader for the company to pay for training so that I could become an Authorised Financial Adviser, but she declined.
In any event, I eventually left that company after suffering the indignity of a Kiwi “performance review”. Apparently, I “made too many errors”. However, my insipid boss failed to comprehend that I also had the highest productivity and on some days did twice the volume of work compared to other people. It never occurred to her that perhaps a system of errors per a certain number of transactions was a better metric than absolute errors. The sole basis for determining “errors” was the number of times another employee had contacted a manager to complain about a mistake made by another colleague. Often, no one ever bothered to confirm whether the mistake had happened. Whenever I found errors, I simply fixed them and gave the other employee a heads up rather than telling a manager. The strange thing about it was that another team at the company had voted me as the most helpful employee. In addition, my colleagues, and even my boss, had raved about the quality of my work until this performance review. My boss was an overweight, insipid, and highly insecure woman. I suspect she revelled in criticising other people to compensate for her own obvious shortcomings.
During the review, I raised the defects in the performance review system, but my boss was impervious to reason and had no grasp of statistics. The next day I wrote a scathing resignation letter and set her straight. I left that company and went to work for the government. I instantly saw even greater incompetence and knavery than I did at the private company in New Zealand. The public sector was rife with nepotism and outright corruption. I had hitherto swallowed the Kool-Aid about New Zealand being free from corruption, but eventually learned the lamentable truth.
What astounded me about the public sector was the number of barely literate and unaccomplished people in senior positions. The place barely functioned. People showed up late and did little work. Government contracts went to companies owned by the spouse or sibling of someone senior at the government department without anyone declaring the conflict. Too often, the people providing these services were outright incompetents and the rates they charged bordered on thievery.
This time, I opted to raise my concerns directly with management because I felt I had a duty to the taxpayer from whom the government forcibly exacted taxes. The managers generally ignored what I told them or simply promised to look at it and did nothing. I even spoke to the Minister whose job it was to oversee the department, but he ignored me as well. I eventually learned that the Minister was an analphabet glutton that could barely write.
I eventually reached the point where I would just confront them in front of other people. This earned the admiration of my colleagues, who voted me the employee of the month. My managers just tended not to respond and walk away or concoct some inane excuse reflective of their lack of brains. Kiwis are unable to argue a position cogently or even stand up for themselves if you prove them wrong, but they find ways to sabotage you by stabbing you in the back when you are not looking.
Nepotism and corruption are endemic in the New Zealand government. The notion that New Zealand is free from corruption is a carefully orchestrated facade perpetrated by Transparency New Zealand. The government funds Transparency New Zealand, which then tells Transparency International that New Zealand has no corruption. Believe me, New Zealand is a highly corrupt place. The difference is that New Zealanders are in denial about what is blatantly obvious to any impartial person.
Ultimately, I left and went to another quasi public company. My time there was also unhappy. I worked in a small office with two useless women. They spent most of their time gossiping about people and running down everyone. One was my manager and the other was in an equivalent position. However, my manager told the one in the equivalent position to mine that I earned more. The people that made the decision to hire me were some managers above my manager rather than my manager, so there was some resentment and insecurity. For some inexplicable reason, she disliked me from the first day. I had brought some leftover birthday cake on my first day, but she immediately jokingly described it as a “bribe”. I suppose humour conceals a person’s sentiments.
The lack of professionalism here was shocking. I remember that the two witches at the office would withhold vital information from me. For instance, the copy machine had a code, but they never bothered telling me what the code was until I requested it. It was a subtle form of bullying because they both felt that I would demonstrate their ineptitude or quickly show how incompetent they were. My manager assigned pointless tasks that were not a part of the job description. I do not mind cleaning toilets or doing grunt work, but doing stupid jobs to waste time irked me. I eventually realised the pointlessness of living in New Zealand and resigned once my Kiwi wife and I decided to emigrate.
I cannot complain too much, as I always had work. I wrongly attributed some of my early troubles to the GFC etc, but I quickly learned that the problems were systemic and often unique to New Zealand. Furthermore, the salaries I earned were high by international standards for the sort of work I did given the high Kiwi Dollar at present. Unfortunately, I did take a step back professionally. I am very frugal and I still managed to save and invest properly, so I am leaving New Zealand with more than what I had when I arrived. Nonetheless, neither my wife nor I could see a scenario where we could raise a family comfortably if I were the sole breadwinner.
My objective in New Zealand from the outset was to go into business and I put up with working in these environments until I found the right business. I searched extensively trying to find a business to buy or start that made sense to no avail. My conclusion is that New Zealand is largely bereft of genuine business opportunities where one can make a reasonable living providing quality goods and services to people. I think this way for several reasons.
First, Kiwis overestimate the value of the “good will” in a business. For example, I found a small tour business for sale for NZ $150,000. According to the books, the business made NZ $50,000 net profit per year, less than I made at my job. The only assets that came with the business were two old vehicles in need of massive maintenance worth about NZ $20,000.
A business like that in the United States would probably sell for about NZ $50,000. I actually “inspected” the business out of curiosity by following the bus one day and I noticed only several passengers. Clearly, a business like that was not making money and the owner was looking for a sucker, perhaps a migrant, who would pay a fortune for nothing.
I saw an advert for a business that made NZ $20,000 in net profit and the owner wanted NZ $200,000. It had a boat worth $50,000 as an asset. Likewise, I saw a “profitable cafe” on sale for NZ $120,000. The facilities were so poor and the cafe so empty that I never bothered asking for the books. I learned a few months later that a retired dairy farmer bought it, but he was operating at a loss and the business floundered.
I also explored the idea of buying a franchise, but it made no sense from a business standpoint. Most franchises were no name companies that wanted a large fee for buying the right to some region whilst skimming off a sizeable percentage of the sales. The franchisee would make me drum up business and do all the hustling, whilst the parasites at the franchise mooched off the profits.
The more reputable franchises were equally dubious. I explored the idea of buying a Dominos Pizza. The start-up costs were around NZ $400,000 and the annual net profit was around NZ $70,000 if the owner worked it himself seven days per week. Clearly, it made no sense to “buy a job” under these circumstances.
One peril to look out for is that some business sellers falsify their figures to lure unsuspecting buyers into handing their cash. In fact, some businesses will trade for a year, the owner will even pay tax to the IRD based on fictitious earnings, and then try to hawk the business to an unsuspecting buyer, often a cashed up migrant, who will then find out that the vendor swindled him out of money. If he tries to go to court, then he will find the legal system exists to protect the criminal, who often is a relation of the judge that will hear the case. The judge will refuse to recuse himself because New Zealand does not have corruption! New Zealand claims to be free from fraud, but these sorts of frauds are common. The enforcement mechanisms here are practically nonexistent and the lax sentencing for crimes only incentivises criminal behaviour.
The reason I bring up these examples is to inform prospective entrepreneurial migrants of the absence of suitable business opportunities here. A friend of mine living in Australia has also looked at buying a business and the environment is similarly treacherous, except the taxes in Australia are higher. The one benefit that Australia has is a larger market and higher real wages.
One other thing that people need to be aware is that New Zealand has a handful of untouchable cartels such as Fletchers, Fonterra, or the largely Australian owned banks and insurer that enjoy virtual monopolies/oligopolies within the country. An unholy alliance exists between them and the government that is redolent of the oligarchies of Ukraine.
For example, the government provided [redacted] with a contract to repair [dedacted] houses in Christchurch following the earthquake without a competitive tendering process. [redacted] have fleeced EQC and it has done some frighteningly shoddy work. [redacted] also control many of the smaller companies that supply building materials. Anyone that tries to compete with these established players quickly finds themselves the target of tax audits or regulatory harassment.
Similarly, the state owns many of the power companies. The state charges extortionate prices for power and then the power companies pay dividends to the state. The high power prices are an insidious indirect tax. Electricity is triple what it is in Europe or North America. Aside from the gouging, poor public policy hinders production. As an aside, the government recently gave a subsidiary of Rio Tinto NZ $30 million to keep the Tiwai Aluminium smelter open along with lower power charges. Businesses that are too big to fail receive subsidies at the expense of the consumer and small business.
Overall, I would summarise the Kiwi work ethic as shocking. The only area where Kiwis excel is in their ability to waste time at the workplace. As a former business owner, I found it appalling how many pointless meetings took place and how little time people devoted to productive work. With such low productivity, it should come as no surprise that New Zealand lags behind economically. The inefficiencies and incompetence ultimately manifest themselves in the high prices people pay and poor quality that people receive. Incidentally, the Productivity Commission did a report on New Zealand productivity and found that, on average, the typical New Zealand worker works 15% more hours than the OECD average, but is 20% less productive. New Zealand’s productivity is similar to places like Slovenia, Greece, or Israel.
Many “professional” Kiwis also lack skills in their respective disciplines. For example, I have met several “investment professionals” who do not know basic things about their industry. Similarly, most builders in this country have less aptitude than would an apprentice in Europe or the United States. Kiwis like to describe themselves as easygoing and laidback, but this is actually a euphemism for sloppiness and lack of competence. Working hard incurs the wrath of the local Kiwis who seem not to understand that industry is a virtue. If you want something done properly, then hire a migrant. Likewise, if you want to buy something after 6:00 pm, go to the dairy owned by the Chinese or Indian. They are willing to work hard and they will smile at you as a customer. In contrast, Kiwis working in retail or customer service treat you like garbage. They have no idea how to treat customers or an understanding that the customer makes their job possible.
Aside from the incompetence at work, I find the people highly arrogant and insipid. Analphabetism is rife amongst Kiwis and even “educated” people seem not to possess a firm grasp of English. Most people cannot discuss anything of substance. Rather, the rugby, the weather, and binge drinking occupy most conversations.
I have had the “privilege” to meet several New Zealand politicians. My impression of them is they are the perfect embodiment of their constituents. Aside from one (Don Brash), I found all of them highly uncultured and opportunistic parasites, irrespective of political party. Several had a dishevelled appearance and none of them was particularly articulate or lettered. Admittedly, politicians are rarely the brightest and best in any society, but the motley lot of “political leaders” in New Zealand is appalling. Most have very little knowledge of public policy or the world around them. It is frightening to fathom that the country is in the hands of these cretins.
A great many Kiwis describe themselves as “educated”. However, this so-called education is devoid of any substance, but rather, is a pernicious form of pseudo intellectualism masquerading as erudition. Many of these individuals have university degrees, typically in the humanities or social sciences and develop an immeasurable and unhealthy conceit inversely proportional to their actual knowledge and achievements.
A short conversation with them reveals the absence of any breadth or depth to their learning. Many cannot spell, use grammar properly, or add basic figures. Despite the oft-repeated claims of “Kiwi ingenuity” or Kiwi’s misplaced belief in their own practical talents, none of them can actually build something useful or take apart an engine. Intelligence is subjective and comes in many forms. For instance, some compose great poetry, others can design, whilst others can write, and others know how to make money. Regrettably, it is difficult to locate any area where Kiwi mental faculties are superlative. If Kiwis were half as good at finding solutions to problems as they are at concocting rubbish justifications and making excuses, New Zealand would be the most advanced and prosperous country in the world.
Incidentally, I have never met a single Kiwi that could speak a foreign language, except those whose parents were foreigners. However, I recall one colleague at work reverentially extol the importance of knowing how to pronounce Maori place names correctly. Kiwi education seems to place an unhealthy importance on the Maori language and culture and reveres it as if it were as worthy of adulation as ancient Greece. Admittedly, Maori people have every right to want to connect to their ancestral language. However, it is far more important for children to learn a useful language such as Chinese or Spanish over Maori. Interestingly, a Maori lady I know who speaks Maori fluently agrees with me, but the leftist politically correct white Kiwis seem not to have grasped the indispensability of knowing another language. Incidentally, I speak Spanish and German fluently, but this was not nearly as important as having “local knowledge” for one tourism position I applied for, a trite phrase that Kiwis employ when they need to concoct an excuse for why they do not want to hire or promote a migrant. I guess knowledge of major international languages is unimportant in the tourism field!
The level of literacy, numeracy, and overall functionality is quite low. New Zealanders love to mock the ignorance of Americans, but they fail to realise how intellectually vacuous they are. Despite the stupidity of the average American, the top 10% in the United States is far cleverer and more talented than the top 10% in New Zealand, most of whom have left overseas for precisely the same reasons as me. For all its flaws, the United States still manages to attract and reward highly capable people.
New Zealanders gluttonously consume the most mind numbing and degenerate American entertainment. Youths listen to disgusting American rap or watch mindless drivel whilst ignoring most of what happens at the Beehive (the nickname for New Zealand’s Parliament). The news coverage here is on par with FOX News, except that it is rabidly left of centre. Aside from one reporter, New Zealand is devoid of investigative journalism. I usually watch BBC, RT, Al Jazeera because the local “news” is so poor.
The government owns much of the media in New Zealand and a few conglomerates control the advertising for what little media remains in private hands, so impartiality is non-existent. The media have little interest in international news, except a mass shooting in the United States, which the media invariably blames on guns rather than the demented underclass and sociopaths. The other international news item is the latest gossip surrounding the royal family.
Another thing that will annoy migrants about New Zealand is the appalling quality of the housing. Kiwis fancy themselves as a very practical lot, yet the building quality is atrocious. Virtually no houses have central heating, proper insulation, or double glazed windows. I have lived in Alaska and I have experienced -40C cold. However, this did little to prepare me for damp, mouldy, and cold New Zealand houses. I do not regard myself a hands-on person, but I could probably design and construct a better house compared to what the local builders can erect.
Perhaps the only thing worse than the poor quality houses is the exorbitant price. The median house price in Auckland is over NZ $600,000 and a $600,000 is junk. This is nearly ten times the median household income. The house prices are high for several reasons.
First, Kiwis distrust share markets so they plough most savings into acquiring rental properties. This artificially inflates the demand for housing. In addition, interest rates are higher in New Zealand, so foreign hedge funds etc borrow money in Japan at 0.5% and lend to New Zealand banks at 3%. This provides a glut of money for banks to lend for housing because Kiwis have no interest in borrowing to buy productive assets such as businesses.
Many of these international hedge funds have contributed to the high value of the New Zealand Dollar. If a major financial shock occurs offshore, it is likely that they will pull money out of New Zealand in favour of the liquidity of the US Dollar or Euro. This will cause a major decline in the New Zealand Dollar and cause house prices to crash once the foreign cash disappears. New Zealand is a net debtor to the world and it lacks the domestic savings to finance high house prices, just as Spain, Portugal, and Greece did. The only internationally competitive sector is agriculture, which accounts for 60% of the country’s earnings despite only employing about 6% of people, yet public policy is firmly anti-farmer. The New Zealand economy is Third World in the sense that it is heavily reliant on soft commodities with little else in terms of internationally competitive economic sectors.
Second, local councils artificially constrain the supply of land. New Zealand’s population has grown from 3 million to 4.5 million over the past quarter century and much of this growth is in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Meanwhile, the urban boundaries have grown little. Consequently, house prices have exploded.
The landlords, including many politicians and local councillors that own rentals, do not want to add to the supply of land because it would reduce demand and the price of their assets. Similarly, Kiwis suckered into paying some of the world’s most expensive house prices because they foolishly believe that house prices always go up, do not wish to open up land. The regrettable thing is that this artificially created shortage has made it practically impossible for young people to own homes. New Zealand house prices are poised for an inevitable if not imminent collapse.
The third reason house prices are so high in this vampire economy is that Fletchers have a virtual monopoly on building materials. This means that building materials are much more expensive than they are overseas.
Fourth, Kiwis are lazy and inefficient workers. Their minds cannot plan or think long term. Consequently, they usually build one house at a time. In North America or Europe, a developer builds entire streets in an almost assembly line fashion. “Kiwi ingenuity” has not grasped this concept. Moreover, Kiwi builders and tradesmen actually command a wage much higher than their ability, further forcing prices upward. I have always raised this issue with insipid Kiwis, who often retort that it is best that each house is “individual”. They do not understand that a developer can build hundreds of homes with unique floor plans.
The high property prices, which the Kiwi media extol, act as a humongous anchor on economic progress. High property prices signify that shops must pay higher rents, which they invariably pass on to their consumers through higher prices. Kiwis have a simpleton mentality incapable of understanding how things percolate down the line. They cheer high property prices, but do not realise that they pay for these higher prices in other ways. In short, the economy operates like a giant ponzi scheme. The insiders that bought property decades ago benefit whilst the rest of the society toils in peonage. A similar thing is happening on New Zealand farms, but New Zealand farmers are too busy trying to hawk their expensive farms to another farmer foolish enough to pay more than they did. The agricultural sector, which brings in most of the country’s foreign currency, faces a dire situation where the average farmer makes perhaps NZ 40,000 – $50,000 after paying interest on a debt of millions. This is happening at a time of high food prices. If food prices plummet or New Zealand experiences an outbreak of mad cow, then it will wipe out most farmers and the country by extension.
Overall, the New Zealand government oversells this country. It does have nice scenery, although places like Alaska, British Columbia, or South America are far more stunning. It does have some good points. For example, New Zealand is generally safe and I do think some Kiwis are good people on some level. Unfortunately, many Kiwis are uncouth, stupid, too drunk, and too conceited. My Kiwi wife and I cannot see ourselves living in this country or raising our future kids in the land of tall poppy syndrome.
Metaphorically, New Zealand is a nation of sheep. Kiwis are highly naive and lack astuteness. Perhaps no better example illustrates this than the EQC debacle. We still have EQC and the New Zealand government praising themselves for their great response, when the reality is that EQC have failed miserably. The organisation is corrupt and screwed over much of New Zealand, yet people still praise the safety net! The people who have most vociferously combated and denounced this mess are overwhelmingly the foreigners. It has been three years, yet many people in Christchurch continue to live in broken houses and some are without flush toilets. They are unwilling to fight or take any initiative, so they deserve their government.
I do not regret my time here, as it has opened my eyes in many respects. Most importantly, I met my lovely Kiwi wife. Unlike 90% of women here, she is feminine, attractive, personably, pleasant, beautiful, and a real gem. However, she is of Swiss extraction, so she is distinct to the local Kiwis. I noticed something different about her and she noticed I was different to the local men. It was a match made in heaven.
My wife said she liked me because unlike Kiwi men, I have ambition and drive. She said I also had manners and dressed well. One noticeable thing about New Zealand is the overall boorishness and slovenliness of the people. The largest retailer is a place called The Warehouse. It is the equivalent of Wal-Mart, but sells shoddy goods that even Wal-Mart would not carry. Never buy anything from there.
At any rate, my wife and I have grown tired of New Zealand and we are voting with our feet. As I post this, we are boarding the plane from Auckland that will take us to Europe. We are eagerly looking forward to living in Switzerland with its culture, perfectionism, and the world’s highest wages. It will be great to live in a place where trains run on time and where actual standards exist. The Swiss extol excellence unlike the Kiwis who are inherently suspicious of anyone with a modicum of intelligence, beauty, talent, or money.
In the meantime, the vampires that have ruined a country with tremendous potential can remain there mooching off each other. I would encourage any prospective migrant to visit and carefully consider the country because New Zealand markets itself very well, but seldom delivers the goods. Our only loss is that we have about one bedroom’s apartment worth of quality furniture that we bought and had to sell. I never risked our money and we do not have any kids yet, so it is easy to escape from here. Other migrants have spent all their savings coming here and they now lack the means to extricate themselves from this backwater. I would urge any reader to heed their warnings and learn the lessons from others to avoid succumbing to the same mistakes.”
Twitter conversation about a quote from this Migrant Tale
Related current events story (Sept 2015)
- Migrant Tales – Do not teach in New Zealand you may live to regret it (e2nz.org)
- Migrant workforce key in the new NZ (nzherald.co.nz)
- Share the Benefit of Your Experience (e2nz.org)
- Aussies unlikely to remove bias against migrants despite PM declaring NZ is ‘family’ (keanewzealand.wordpress.com)
- Migrant Tales – British Sparkie Can’t Find Work (e2nz.org)
- Migrant Tales – British Cop in Northland: NZ’s “Crime Statistics a Work of Fiction” (e2nz.org)
- Migrant Tales – The UK Plumber’s Tale (e2nz.org)
- Migrant Tales – Hong Kong Chinese: Moving to New Zealand is a Big Mistake (e2nz.org)
- Migrant Tales – Binge Drinking The Bane Of The Culture And NZ Is A Nation of ‘MJ’ Smokers (e2nz.org)
- Migrant Tales – NZ Not The Land Of Promise For Me (e2nz.org)